10th April 2009 at 01:00
Pamela Moulds 1936-2009

Pamela Moulds gave up the chance of a part in a Hollywood film opposite Errol Flynn for life as a schoolteacher. But the 72-year-old, who died last month, never regretted her decision.

Born Pamela Wilkinson in 1936, she grew up watching her mother teach elocution and drama to local pupils. Together, they attended drama workshops in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Pam developed a keen interest in acting and went on to study English at Manchester University. This was relatively unusual for women at the time, and she remained proud of her degree for the rest of her life.

On graduation, she became a Latin and English teacher at a Lancashire girls' grammar school. But she also kept up her acting, and at the age of 22 was offered the title role in a local production of Jane Eyre.

Among the audience was a Hollywood scout who contacted her, saying she would be perfect for a new leading role opposite Errol Flynn. They arranged to meet at the Dorchester hotel in London.

But her boyfriend was less than pleased. Pam had met David Moulds, newly discharged from the RAF, during a dinner-dance at the local golf club. He looked dashing in plus fours; she was instantly smitten. The evening they met, she announced to her family: "This is the man I'm going to marry."

But her fiance was training to be an accountant. This was not, he said, compatible with a move to Hollywood. And so his wife-to-be told the scout she would not be able to meet him after all. The story made the national press: "Pam says no to Hollywood."

The pair married shortly afterwards, and Mrs Moulds gave up work. Their first daughter, Kathy, was born in 1959. Diana followed two years later.

No sense of what-if ever marred her happiness. Her outlook was black and white: she could have had one life, but she chose another and never looked back.

When Diana reached school age, Pam resumed her teaching career, taking up a post at nearby Burnley College. But family remained her primary focus. She always picked up her daughters from school and together they spent the afternoons boating or playing in the park. She then stayed up late into the night, marking work.

With both daughters in school, Pam anticipated being able to refocus on her career. But in 1973, a third daughter, Jo, arrived, and she once again gave up work.

When Jo started school, Pam returned to the classroom. She worked with dyslexic boys, imbuing them with a love of drama and poetry. Later, she instructed trainee nurses in grammar and letter-writing. She derived great satisfaction from showing that her subject was accessible to all.

She also devoted herself to old-fashioned good works: shopping for elderly neighbours, visiting prisoners' wives, volunteering as a magistrate. She had been brought up a Methodist and had a keen sense of Christian duty.

Her religious faith helped comfort her when David died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 59. He had remained the great romance of her life, a romance best captured by a Valentine's card he gave her showing two old-aged dogs declaring puppy love.

Eventually, she said, they would be reunited in the afterlife. Meanwhile, she made the most of this world. She read voraciously: everything from Shakespeare to pot-boiler romances. She joined the University of the Third Age. And, after a hiatus of 30 years, she and her mother resumed their trips to Stratford.

In January, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Two strokes followed and she died in early March, clutching a toy hedgehog that David had given her.

She had said she did not want to be a burden to her children. Her acting career may have ended half a century earlier, but she got the final bow she wanted.

Pamela Moulds is survived by her three daughters and four grandchildren.

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